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Sleep and Diabetes

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I almost always laugh when someone asks me if I am tired. Of course I am! I’m a mom, I work and I have diabetes!

Although sleep deprivation sometimes comes with the diabetes territory, I now know to put as much effort into getting adequate hours of sleep, as I do into controlling my blood glucose levels (BG) and exercise.

Not getting enough sleep is detrimental for your health. As a diabetic, it can cause several problems, such a stress, insulin resistance, fluctuation of hormones and depression.

“People who don't get enough sleep often have higher levels of chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. Lack of sleep also can increase production of cortisol (the body's primary stress hormone), impair memory and reflex time, elevate blood sugar, and increase appetite -- ultimately promoting weight gain,” said Carol Touma, M.D., an endocrinologist at the University of Chicago. This was reported on Diabeticlivingonline.com.

“Sleep is an important factor for your health, as much as diet and exercise. In the past decade, there has been growing evidence that too little sleep can affect hormones and metabolism in ways that promote diabetes,” said University of Chicago researcher Kristen Knutson, PhD in an article on WebMD.com.

"Further, research shows that sleep loss reduces levels of the hormone leptin, an appetite suppressant, while boosting levels of ghrelin, an appetite stimulant. That's a poor combination that may prompt sleep-deprived people to eat more.”

Often a diabetic’s sleep is disrupted by:

• hypoglycemic reactions

• Frequent urination

• Sore injection sites or insertion sites

• Insulin pumps or continuous glucose monitor (CGM) alarming due to calibration, low reservoir or low battery warnings

Some tips to help get better sleep are to:

• Set regular sleep hours.

• Check (BG) levels before bed.

• Check pump or CGM for potential alarms.

• Resist caffeine and alcohol.

• Exercise in the mornings.

I suggest you aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep. We probably could all use a few more hours of sleep.

When I am sleep deprived, I’m stressed, which increases my BG. I don’t feel like exercising as much. I usually eat poor food choices as comfort food.

I have learned that I am a happier and healthier person with more sleep. Although, as a mom and as a diabetic, I am still striving to accomplish this regularly.

By Marianne Tetlow “The Diabetes Coach”
The Diabetes Coach is a comprehensive resource and consulting group for individuals or families with a loved one dealing with diabetes. “Helping You To Move Forward While Managing the Ups and Downs”

“The Diabetes and Sleep Connection”. Web. www.webmd.com August 15, 2012.

“Diabetes and the Importance of Sleep”. Web. www.diabeticliving.com August 15, 2012.

Reviewed August 17, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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